Wellness area

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Wellness area at Advanced Treatment Centers in South Fayette Township

On the path to recovery, many an addict faces a question.

“Well, now I’m clean, but my life is still a disaster. ‘What do I do?’” said Jeff Lukas, a Peters Township High School graduate.

The answer often is relapse. As managing partner of Advanced Treatment Centers in South Fayette, Lukas provides the potential for a much more positive outcome.

Jeff Lukas

Jeff Lukas

Since opening in February, the facility has offered an approach that focuses on therapy and wellness on primarily a one-on-one basis, derived from Lukas’ observations during his dozen years of working in multiple areas of the treatment field.

“One of the things that’s become clear as far as treatment goes is that there’s no one-size-fits-all. Some people go to meetings,” he said referencing traditional 12-step programs, “and that’s what does it for them. Some people go to meetings and can’t stand it. Some people go to therapy, and they love it. For other people, therapy’s not their thing.”

It worked for Lukas in his own path to recovery from addiction.

“The therapeutic aspect is really what saved my life,” he said. “It was the thing that got me to the point where I could see what I was doing to cause all this in my life.”

He spent 11 months in an Oklahoma treatment facility and subsequently participated in training programs to work in the related field.

“I did everything, from the ground up. I was night watch when they needed that. I was a drug tester when they needed that. I did searches when we had incoming clients,” he said. “While I was working in that capacity, I did further schooling and got a counselor’s license.”

From there, Lukas got a job in a Louisiana facility and worked his way up to becoming executive director within a year. He later moved to Chicago and co-founded a company specializing in interventions with Lucas Catton, who today serves as senior adviser for Advanced Treatment Centers following the sale of their business to a national provider.

Lukas returned to the Pittsburgh area with the intention of drawing on the knowledge he has gained to provide services he believes are particularly effective.

“I’m happy that I’m doing it here, because of the whole karma aspect of life,” he said. “I did a lot of wrong here when I was an addict, and I’m happy to be back and be able to try to make some kind of difference with people who are like I was.”

Advanced Treatment Centers’ services include a program led by wellness director Kelly Haywiser, who integrates a variety of methodologies to help in areas such as reducing stress, improving relationships, eating more healthfully and managing weight.

“The guys come out of those sessions, and they’re bright. They’re alive. They’re happy, and they just rave about what they’re doing,” Lukas said. “The therapy side is where you’re cleaning it all up and digging it all out. The wellness side is where you’re learning how to balance your life and feel good about yourself.”

In that regard, Advanced Treatment Centers is the first program for substance use disorders to partner with the nonprofit Heart Based Institute of Marshall, N.C., and incorporate its Heart Based Therapeutics, a systematic approach to learning to relax and enjoy positive feelings.

“Once you can start to love and respect yourself, then you can start to love and respect other aspects of your life, like your family, your kids, your job,” Lukas said. “It’s sort of like the light gets turned on for a person.”

Stew Saxton, director of marketing for Advanced Treatment Center, said he has seen families spending large sums of money sending members to recovery programs, and the results often are less than optimal.

“Eventually, the parents have to get back to their lives, and they kind of lose track of what that person is doing,” he said. “It turns out that person relapses and goes back to treatment. They spend more money.”

Saxton said Advanced Treatment Center can help mitigate those types of scenarios.

“We can do case management, where we kind of supervise a client coming back from treatment and let the parents know: ‘Hey, your loved one is doing the right thing,’” he said.

The next step for Advanced Treatment Centers, Lukas said, is to open “recovery communities” in other areas offering services similar to the main location.

“It allows us to help those people out there who would like to have access to what we do,” he said, “but maybe they live in Monroeville and can’t drive an hour and a half every day to get here.”

His overall goal is to provide recovering addicts with opportunities to return to the normalcy they once knew.

“I couldn’t tell you the day I got clean, but I remember like it was yesterday the day I got my credit rating or the day that I got my license back,” he said. “Those sorts of things are the ones that stand out to me when I look back at my journey to where I am now.”

For more information, visit advancedtreatmentcenters.com.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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